‘When I was growing up there was no woman to act as a role model for me. When I went to the Royal College of Arts not a single female was on the staff. Even the thought of having a female on the staff was outrageous.’
The National Gallery presents a new major annual event in memory of former director Betty Churcher AO (1931-2015).
The Betty Churcher AO Memorial Oration will feature leading women of the arts, including Australian and international speakers, who inspire creativity, inclusivity, engagement and learning in their practice.
The inaugural Oration will be held on Thursday 21 April 2022 and include Dr Melissa Chiu, Director, Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in conversation with globally renowned author and award-winning journalist Julia Baird. Join them as they ensure the legacy of women artists on the global stage and delve into Chiu’s career in the arts, her personal story from Darwin to Washington, the future for women artists and how museums engage new audiences.
The inaugural Oration recognises Churcher’s impact and legacy. Churcher was the National Gallery’s director from 1990-1997, and the first and only woman to hold this position. Churcher was committed to remove as many barriers that may stand between the audience and a work of art, eventually to become known as ‘Betty Blockbuster’ for her commitment to large-scale exhibitions that engage beyond the traditional gallery-goer.
Churcher was also the first woman to lead an Australian tertiary education centre as Dean of the School of Art and Design at Phillip Institute of Technology in Melbourne in 1982 and the first woman to lead a state gallery as Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1987.
National Gallery Director Nick Mitzevich says the way Churcher brought art to life has always been an inspiration to him and that it is the spirit of her inclusive approach that continues in the Gallery’s current vision to lead a contemporary cultural agenda.
‘This event celebrates Betty Churcher, whose leadership in education and programming oversaw an era of creative transformation and audience growth. It recognises and celebrates leading women of the arts who inspire creativity and inclusivity in their contributions to cultural life both here in Australia and across the globe,’ said Mitzevich.
Special Event: Betty Churcher AO Memorial Oration with Dr Melissa Chiu with Julia Baird
Thu 21 Apr 2022, 7-8pm AEST | Online event | Pay what you wish, bookings essential
To book your tickets, please visit nga.gov.au/events/betty-churcher-ao-memorial-oration/
M 0431 731 140